Dr Livia Rezende
School of Arts & Humanities
- History of Design
Dr Livia Rezende is Tutor (Research) at the History of Design Postgraduate Programme run by the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) and the Royal College of Art (RCA). Dr Rezende supervises PhD theses and MA dissertations, undertakes externally-funded research, manages international academic projects, offers research-led teaching of MA courses, and is Student Support liaison. Having trained and worked as a graphic designer in Brazil, Dr Rezende’s interests straddle the worlds of practice and research, investigating design’s role in cultural exchanges and economic development globally from the 19th century to the contemporary. Her current research examines histories of design education and creativity.
Dr Rezende has straddled design practice and historical research for over 15 years, having worked as a graphic designer for national companies and large corporations, the heritage and creative economy sectors, and the print industries while advancing academic research in design history. She joined the Royal College of Art in 2013 as Tutor (Research) in History of Design.Show more
Dr Rezende’s current research examines histories of design education and creativity globally. It questions how creativity has been conceptualized and enacted by different social groups; how design and creativity have been taught, learnt, and deployed through community-run projects, and how creativity has fostered personal and collective growth and leadership in groups not typically included in the creative economy sectors. This project contributes to current debates in design history, education, public health and policy making by producing innovative insights into how creative projects have empowered communities, fostered mental health, and built leadership across the globe during the twentieth century.
Since 2014 Dr Rezende has spearheaded the study of Latin American design history in the UK. She has co-convened conference panels in the UK and US, and is co-editing a Special Issue of the Journal of Design History on design exchanges in Latin America and the Caribbean to consolidate her global study of modern design as a political tool for development. Dr Rezende’s research has been informed by material and visual culture methods of analysis, studies of nationalism, sociology of translation, anthropology, and gender theory. She has expertise on nineteenth- and twentieth-century industrial and communication design, including the development of printing technologies, and the global production of images of modernity.
She has convened workshops on development & sustainability, and open-source making. Through cross-cultural partnerships and public engagement, Dr Rezende has helped advance new research agendas like ‘Environmental Histories of Design’ (Germany and Norway, 2015–17), ‘Design and Uncertainty in the Global Present’ (India and UK, 2013–14), and furthered widening participation, social inclusion and academic exchange.
After receiving her PhD from the V&A/RCA History of Design programme, Dr Rezende was awarded a Junior Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Brazilian National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) in 2012 to undertake research on the 1922 Independence Centennial International Exhibition in Rio de Janeiro. This followed her doctoral thesis ‘The raw and the manufactured: Brazilian modernity and national identity as projected in International Exhibitions (1862–1922)’, where she discussed national representation through designed artefacts, the management of raw materials and conceptualisations of nature in International Exhibitions and World’s Fairs.
In 2012, Dr Rezende was awarded a Visiting Professorship by the Rio de Janeiro State University to teach design historical-informed courses at the College of Industrial Design (ESDI). Dr Rezende was Academic Coordinator for the Istituto Europeo di Design, where she managed course leaders and led interdisciplinary ‘Creative Laboratory’ projects in Sustainable and Strategic Design, among others.
As the Design History Society’s Treasurer, Dr Rezende helped organize events and conferences in the UK, Ireland, Norway, India and the US, and reviewed award applications. She serves as a peer reviewer and scientific and programme committee member for various academic journals and conferences.
Academic Exchange and Collaboration
(2017) Participant in the cross-cultural workshop ‘Development through the Creative Economy in China’, Shanghai, organised and supported by the Arts & Humanities Research Council and the Newton Fund UK.
(2015) Participant in the international research workshop ‘Environmental Histories of Design’, organised by Kjetil Fallan (University of Oslo) and Finn Arne Jørgensen (University of Umea), Rachel Carson Centre, Germany, supported by the Norwegian Research Council.Show more
(2014) Invited speaker and participant in the cross-cultural workshop ‘Design and Uncertainty in the Global Present’, organised by Christine Guth (V&A/RCA) and Suchitra Balasubrahmanyan (Ambedkar University), London and Delhi, supported by the British Council.
Academic Event Management
(2015) Co-organiser and speaker in the conference panel 'The Utopia of Autonomy: Disseminating Modern Design in Latin America, 1950-1970', with Patricia Lara-Betancourt (Kingston University) and Patricia Amorim (ESPM, Brazil), Design History Society Conference, USA.
(2015) Co-organiser of the double panel ‘Making Autonomy: Design, Material and Visual culture in Latin America’, with Patricia Lara-Betancourt (Kingston University), Society for Latin American Studies Conference, UK, supported by the RCA Research Development Fund Grant.
(2009–11) Co-organiser and convener of the ‘Dialogues in Design’ postgraduate seminar series, with Cat Rossi, Stephen Knott and Shehnaz Suterwalla, Royal College of Art and V&A Museum.
(2017) Invited speaker at the ‘Habitat Magazine: Lina Bo Bardi’s Architecture in Writing’ public event, organised by Julia Studio, Barbican Art Gallery, London, supported by the British Council.
(2014) Chair and invited speaker at the ‘Brazilian Contemporary’ symposium, V&A Museum, supported by the Embassy of Brazil, London.
(2013) Co-coordinator and tutor in the ‘Co-Creation in Design: Action in Territories’ collaborative project to promote social inclusion through design, with local NGO, Zoy Anastassakis and Barbara Szaniecki, ESDI, Brazil.
(2012) Organiser and co-convener of the open source making workshop ‘Autoprogettazione, 1974–2012’, with Petro Themoteo, ESDI, Brazil.
(2012) Co-organiser and convener of the ‘Design on Mondays’ debate series on innovation in design education, with Zoy Anastassakis and Barbara Szaniecki, ESDI, Brazil.
(2017) Making and Unmaking the Environment, Design History Society Conference, University of Oslo, Norway.
(2015) Design and the Spirit of Critical Utopianism, Design History Society Conference, College of Creative Arts, USA.
(2014) Reading and Exhibiting Nature Conference, University of Westminster, UK
(2013) Towards Global Histories of Design: Postcolonial Perspectives, Design History Society Conference, National Institute of Design, India.
(2012) 21st Annual Conference of the Associations for the Study of Ethnicity and Nationalism, London School of Economics, UK.
(2010) 8th Conference of the International Committee of Design History and Design Studies (ICDHS), São Paulo University, Brazil.
(2011) Great Exhibitions in the Margins Symposium, University of Wolverhampton, UK
(2016–2019) External Examiner, Univeristy for the Creative Arts
(2013–2016) Design History Society Trustee and Treasurer.
(2013–2015) Member of the Scientific Committee for Design History Society Conference.
(2012) Conference in Design Research & Development, Brazil (2014) and ICDHS.
Peer Reviewer for the Journal of Design History, Cumulus Conference, Journal of Communication Design, Linguagens Gráficas, among others.
Publications, exhibitions and other outcomes
Selected PublicationsShow more
Academic Journal Articles
Rezende, Livia (2017) ‘Manufacturing the raw in design pageantries: the commodification and gendering of Brazilian tropical nature at the 1867 Exposition Universelle’, Journal of Design History Special Issue: Environmental Histories of Design, ed. by Kjetil Fallan and Finn Arne Jørgensen, vol.30, n.2, pp.122–138.
Rezende, Livia (2014) ‘Beyond natural beauty, bounty and national boundaries: actualising the debate on the “Brazilian Contemporary”’ in: Chantal Faust (ed), Prova 2: Humanities Research Forum Journal, London: Royal College of Art, pp.26–30.
Rezende, Livia (2016) ‘Of Coffee, Nature and Exclusion: Designing Brazilian National Identity at International Exhibitions, 1867 & 1904’, in: Grace Lees-Maffei and Kjetil Fallan (eds), Designing Worlds: National Design Histories in the Age of Globalization, Oxford: Berghahn, pp.259–273.
Rezende, Livia (2015) ‘The Artifice of Nature and the Naturalisation of the State at the 1922 Rio de Janeiro International Exhibition’, in: Marta Filipova (ed), Cultures of Exhibitions, London: Ashgate, pp.163–182.
Rezende, Livia (2015) [Various Historical Entries on Latin American Design Institutions and International Exhibitions], in: Clive Edwards (ed.), The Encyclopaedia of Design, London: Bloomsbury.
Rezende, Livia (2014) ‘Designing the state at Brazil’s Independence Centennial International Exhibition’, in: Priscila Farias and Paul Atkinson(eds), Design Frontiers. Territories, Concepts, Technologies, Mexico City: Editorial Designio, pp.79–89.
Rezende, Livia (2012) ‘O Nome do Jogo’, in: Coral Michelin (ed.), Livro-Poster Canção: Transgressão, Rio de Janeiro, pp.3–5.
Rezende, Livia Lazzaro (2005) ‘A Circulação de Imagens no Brasil Oitocentista: uma História com Marca Registrada’ in: Rafael Cardoso (ed), O Design Brasileiro Antes do Design: Aspectos da História Gráfica, 1870-1960, São Paulo: Cosac Naify, pp.20–57.
Rezende, Livia (2013) ‘Terra & Tuma Makes Concrete Cosy in São Paulo’, Frame Magazine, vol.93, pp.38–39.
Rezende, Livia (2013) ‘Mistral Wine Store in São Paulo’, Frame Magazine, vol.91, pp.108–113.
Rezende, Livia (2013) ‘King of Comfort: a Talk with Sergio Rodrigues’, Frame Magazine, vol.90, pp.190–195.
Rezende, Livia and Daniel J. Huppatz, (2015) ‘World History of Design’ by Victor Margolin, Journal of Design History, vol.28, n.4, pp.431–433
Rezende, Livia (2012) ‘Modern British Posters: Art, Design & Communication; Art for All: British Posters for Transport’, Journal of Design History, vol.25, n.3, pp.329–332
Published Conference Papers
Rezende, Livia (2012) ‘Transforming Territories and Forging Identities at the Independence Centennial International Exhibition in Rio de Janeiro (1922)’, in: Design Frontiers: Territories, Concepts, Technologies, Proceedings of the 8th Conference of the International Committee of Design History and Design Studies, São Paulo: Blucher, pp.277–280.
Rezende, Livia (2010) ‘Crafting the Nation: Brazilian “civilised exoticism” at World Exhibitions’ in: Design and Craft: A History of Convergences and Divergences, Proceedings of the 7th Conference of the International Committee of Design History and Design Studies, Brussels, pp.136–139.
Rezende, Livia (2008) ‘The Raw and the Manufactured: a Discussion of Brazilian National Identity Projected in International Exhibitions’, in Another Name for Design: Words for Creation, Proceedings of the 6th International Conference of Design History and Design Studies, Osaka, pp.354–357.
Awards and Grants
Development through the Creative Economy in China Workshop (2017), AHRC and Newton Fund UK, Grant support for participation in this cross-cultural workshop to establish collaborative research networks between UK and Chinese scholars.
Making Autonomy: Design, Material and Visual culture in Latin America (2015), RCA Research Development Fund, Grant support to organise panel conferences and form a network of international researchers around Latin American design history.
Visiting Professorship (2013), Rio de Janeiro State University, Brazil, For establishing visiting scholars in local academic programmes.
Junior Postdoctoral Scholarship (2012), Brazilian National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq), For early career researchers to continue doctoral research and publication plans.
Full doctoral award (2007–10), CAPES Foundation of Brazil, Grant offered to cover tuition fees, maintenance and fieldwork of Brazilian nationals abroad.
Dr Rezende’s research is informed by material and visual
culture methods of analysis, studies of nationalism, sociology of translation,
anthropology, and gender theory. She has expertise and interests on:
- Histories of design
education and creativity
- Economic and cultural
development through design
- Latin American design
history, 19th and 20th centuries
Histories of Design, including the global management of raw materials and
conceptualisations of nature
Exhibitions and World’s Fairs
- Nineteenth- and twentieth-century industrial
and communication design
- Printing technologies
- Global production and circulation of images of
Current and recent research
A global history of design, learning and creativity: from the mainstream to the marginalised and back
This research examines histories of design education and creativity globally. It questions how creativity has been conceptualized and enacted by different social groups; how design and creativity have been taught, learnt, and deployed through community-run projects, and how creativity has fostered personal and collective growth and leadership in groups not typically included in the creative economy sectors. Its theoretical and methodological frameworks draw on academic conceptualizations of creativity devised in psychoanalysis and psychotherapeutic work; neurosciences; social sciences, and art & design. This project contributes to current debates in design history, education, public health and policy making by producing innovative insights into how creative projects have empowered communities, fostered mental health, and built leadership across the globe during the twentieth century.
Locating Design Exchanges in Latin America and the Caribbean
This research, scholarly networking and publication output (to be published as a Special Issue of the Journal of Design History, forthcoming) originated in the conference panels co-organised and co-convened with Patricia Lara-Betancourt (Kingston University) in the UK and the US. Our project’s aim to unearth exchanges, connections and comparisons in design and material culture among Latin American and Caribbean nations and between the region and other global geographies since 1800. Our project brings together emerging and established scholars whose work identify points of comparison and connection in the design and material cultural histories among LAC nations, and integrate design histories of Latin America into broader understandings, discourses and narratives of design history in general.
The establishment of modern design in Latin America: a global project
This research set out to question why and how political authorities, intellectual and cultural elites, and design educators in Latin American countries adopted the language and practice of industrial modern design in their quest for regional development and economic autonomy between the 1950s and 1980s. Underpinned by a global design history methodology, this research explored the establishment of the first modern design schools in the region to discuss the intense transnational and transdisciplinary exchange between Latin America and the rest of the world during the Cold War, a dynamic that changes with the founding of the Latin American Association of Industrial Design (ALADI) in 1980. This project centred on nation- and region-building efforts that adopted modern design as a vision, an ideology and a practice by focussing primarily on the institutionalisation of modern design education, on design pedagogies and methodologies, and on the professionalization of the design practice. National design policies and large design projects for development based on industrialisation and expansion of national and regional infrastructures were also studied.
Environmental Histories of Design / Manufacturing the Raw
Stemming from the international workshop of the same name, and consolidating some of the findings from my own doctoral research, this research and its outputs interrogated the complex relationship between nature and culture by examining how tropical nature and raw materials were conceptualised and displayed in the nineteenth century. It historicized a display of tropical wood mounted by the Empire of Brazil for the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1867. The reception of this display in Europe was analysed through Karl Max’s ideas on the gendering of nature and commodity exchange, through the concept of tropicality, and Claude Lévi-Strauss’ raw and cooked binaries, which helped unveil how natural materials were conceptualised and commodified into things themselves. Broadly this project was interested in putting ‘nature in our official past’ and bring to the fore key concerns from environmental history studies to bear upon design historical enquiries.